By Dave Andrusko
“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience.” — Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York
As discussed in “Obama’s ‘Compromise’: A Further Review,” part one and two, it took about three hours (or fewer) for pro-life groups to figure out that President Obama’s tinkering with his mandate that compels Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities to paying for health insurance that covers sterilization and contraception was, to put it politely, a sham.
National Right to Life charged that “President Obama today promulgated a scam that, if he is re-elected, will allow him to mandate that every health plan in America cover abortion on demand.” According to NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson, “The same twisted logic will be applied: By ordering health plans to cover elective abortion, health plans would save the much higher costs of prenatal care, childbirth, and care for the baby — and under the Obama scam, if a procedure saves money, then that means that you’re not really paying for it when the government mandates it.”
NRLC elaborated in its statement on what it characterized as Obama’s “doublespeak”: “The Obama ‘you must pay, but nobody pays’ scam might also be applied to other ‘cost-cutting’ mandates. Perhaps every health plan will be mandated to cover physician-assisted suicide, in states in which assisted suicide is legal. After all, each suicide would result in a net savings to the plan, and under the Obama scam, that means it is really free and nobody really pays for it.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its statement, elaborated on that analysis. “All the other mandated ‘preventive services’ prevent disease, and pregnancy is not a disease.”
Moreover, as have other religious groups, or religiously-affiliated groups, the USCCB highlighted how widespread an attack on religious liberty the refurbished (but unchanged) mandate is:
“Second, we explained that the mandate would impose a burden of unprecedented reach and severity on the consciences of those who consider such ‘services’ immoral: insurers forced to write policies including this coverage; employers and schools forced to sponsor and subsidize the coverage; and individual employees and students forced to pay premiums for the coverage. We therefore urged HHS, if it insisted on keeping the mandate, to provide a conscience exemption for all of these stakeholders–not just the extremely small subset of ‘religious employers’ that HHS proposed to exempt initially.” (Underlining in the original.)
You would not expect the Obama Administration to do otherwise, but it’s noteworthy that its spokesmen treat the USCCB as just one of many “Catholic” groups. When, for example, White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew made the rounds yesterday of the Sunday talk shows, he approvingly cited the Catholic Health Association’s nod of approval.
However it is very much worth noting that the CHA’s support for ObamaCare was very instrumental in the measure’s passage in the first place. That the CHA would accept something as deeply flawed as the “new” mandate comes as no surprise.
Many non-Catholics have been highly critical. Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, pulled no punches in his statement.
”Southern Baptists and people of other various faith communities are outraged with President Obama’s so-called compromise on his administration’s abortion mandate. In his attempt to mollify his radical pro-abortion supporters, President Obama has declared that individual conscience is subject to government edict.
“The president’s failure to grasp the seriousness of this issue reveals a dangerous presidential blind spot concerning First Amendment constitutional religious free exercise guarantees. It also highlights the wisdom of our forefathers who bequeathed to us a legislative system that is supposed to pass laws with the consent of the governed through their elected representatives, rather than being governed by executive branch imperial edicts passed down from on high. If these issues had been subjected to the legislative process as our political system intends, then the problems we are currently facing would have surfaced and been dealt with in ways that would have truly respected both individual conscience and the health needs of our citizens.”
And because the issues at stake are universal, it wasn’t surprising that Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik of Yeshiva University, and Chuck Colson, a pro-life Evangelical leader, wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal. They made the point that a Catholic, a Protestant, and a Jew can all agree that “under no circumstances should people of faith violate their consciences and discard their most cherished religious beliefs in order to comply with a gravely unjust law.”
As mentioned previously today, National Right to Life strongly backs the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” introduced into Congress by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry and Roy Blunt, which would overturn the Obama mandate and prevent the administration from forcing employers to provide coverage contrary to their religious and moral belief.
Even when questioned by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who actually fairly described some of the critics’ objections, Chief of Staff Lew was the model of unyielding serenity: the President’s “policy is clear,” a “balanced approach.” No matter how many times Wallace asked, “So, you’re not going to change despite what the bishops say?” his response was always the same mantra.
As Marc A. Thiessen, a visting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute and former chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush, said (writing in the Washington Post), “ Obama’s objective is to get this story off the front pages until after the election, and divide his opposition.”
No doubt it was, but it has failed miserably on both counts.
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